Learn about melting ice in the Canadian Arctic in Ask a Scientist from Environment and Climate Change. This episode Climatologist David Phillips responds to the question "How many meters of ice have melted in the Arctic over the last 100 years?"
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JOSHUA (Canadian Kid):
How many metres of ice have melted in the Arctic over the last 100 years?
INSIDE ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE CANADA
ASK A SCIENTIST
DAVID PHILLIPS (Climatologist):
Ooh, you got me on that one.
I’m not exactly sure. I could tell you a little bit about what I know about the ice melting in the Arctic.
We certainly have seen there’s less ice in the Arctic now because of warming. The North has warmed up the fastest anywhere in the world. We’re seeing it in the Canadian Arctic; warming three times faster than the global average. And since the ice is melting, the snow is disappearing before people’s eyes.
When I began my career 50 years ago, most of the ice in the Arctic was what we would call “multiyear ice.” Ice would grow there, and it would just get bigger and thicker every year. But now what we see is ice that is what we call “rookie ice.” It only lasts a year.
So, multiyear ice was like two to three to four metres thick. I mean, it was really thick. But the first year ice is only about a metre thick. So, we know the ice used to be really, really thick, and now it’s less because of its warmer temperatures and stronger winds.
The other thing, Joshua, that we know about the Arctic and the ice, is it doesn’t cover as much area as it used to. So, we know the ice has just absolutely disappeared from the north, and that’s because of the fact that the world is warmer, and that has consequences for Inuit people who hunt and fish. So, the world has really changed, but no place has it changed more than in the Arctic.
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